Addiction Is a Workforce Issue

Addiction Is a Workforce Issue-Opioid-Memorial-DC

Every day, an average of 130 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids.

The economic impact of prescription opioid abuse alone was a staggering $179.4 billion in 2018, according to a recent report by the Society of Actuaries. That includes $72.6 billion in mortality costs, $60.4 billion in health care costs, $26.5 billion in lost productivity, and $10.9 billion in criminal justice system costs.

Clearly, the opioid addiction crisis is too large for any one entity or sector to combat alone—it impacts every segment of society. So, a one-size-fits-all solution won’t work.

Now is the time for business leaders to stand up and take an active role in addressing this epidemic. By joining forces with public health officials, elected leaders, and law enforcement, businesses can help enhance locally-tailored solutions in communities across the country.

Simply put, addiction is a workforce issue. If business leaders can intervene and get people the help they need while keeping them employed, it could make a huge difference in their recovery. It can save costs associated with health care and lost productivity. And helping people through an addiction crisis may create some of a company’s most loyal and productive workers down the road.

To do so, business leaders need to first assess the impact of prescription opioid abuse within their own companies. To help companies understand the cost of substance use in their workplace, the National Safety Council offers an online calculator tool, which considers a company’s employee base, industry, and state to estimate the related workplace costs. For example, according to the calculator, a retailer in California with 100 employees would lose nearly $37,000 a year due to substance abuse issues.

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